The Atchafalaya Basin


Simmesport, LA
United States United States
28.7099, -91.5161
860,000 Acres

For any body that is interested in fishing and boating they need to know about and or be told about the “Atchafalaya Basin.”

The “Atchafalaya Basin” is a flood control area in the extreme south central part of the state focused around the Atchafalaya River from around Simmesport to Morgan City and onto the Gulf of Mexico a distance of over a hundred miles. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has constructed many many miles of huge earthen levees on the east and west boundaries of the “Basin” to control flood waters that can fluxate as much as twenty-two feet in the “Basin.”

The information on the exact beginning, end and size seems to be vague. A generalized description would be, about a fifteen mile swath starting just north of Lettsworth and goes south to Morgan City about 100 miles. This starting point is around the junction of the Red River and the Atchafalaya River at the “Old River Lock.” The Louisiana Wildlife & Fisheries has their map of the area with the northern boundary at US 190 around Krotz Springs about 30 miles south of Lettsworth. Their southern end is the Gulf of Mexico about fifteen miles south of Morgan City. The information that I have states the size of the basin comprises an area of 860,000 acres [over 1,350 square miles] of swamps, lakes and water prairies the largest and last great river-basin swamp. There are many accesses to the basin a total of 35 boat launches around the entire basin.

There are hundreds of square miles of beautiful pristine swamps, lake and water prairies that abound with many types of wildlife, birds, waterfowl and fish.. There are many miles perhaps hundreds of miles of rivers, bayous and canals there. Note, all of the area is not all covered with water. Thus this is a great wilderness place to boat and fish. However, extreme care and caution should be used in using this secluded wilderness-type area as it is very easily to get lost in this place. I saw a locale fisherman in his fifteen foot bass boat preparing to go into the basin that he was familiar with and he had a spare outboard motor and a tent in the gunnels. This should demonstrate what kind of a place this ”Basin” is so, use caution in this area.

The Atchafalaya Basin, the surrounding plain of the river, is filled with bayous, bald cypress swamps, and marshes that give way to more brackish conditions and end in the Spartina grass marshes, near and at where it meets the Gulf of Mexico.

Aquatic vegetation:

Bayous, bald cypress swamps, and marshes that give way to more brackish conditions and end in the Spartina grass marshes.


Submerged logs, stumps.


To fish the basin you should become familiar with local river stages as the Atchafalaya River's coinciding fall with the Mississippi River dictates which areas to fish, and the best time to fish them. Anglers who fish the basin regularly know how the water levels affect the topography of the swamp and where "good" water is located. They know from experience that water levels play a key role in catching bass. Many anglers follow the falling water from the northern basin to areas in the southern end searching for the best hotspots along the way. Other fisherman wait to hear that the water levels are right and that fish are being caught before they plan a trip. For those who fish the basin infrequently, word of mouth from a reliable source is the best bet.

Catching large numbers of fish in the basin is possible, especially when the water is falling. Lures of choice include spinnerbaits, buzz baits, soft plastics, and a range of many others. The swamp is so vast that it presents many different types of cover, structure and conditions.

The swamp is huge, with many bayous, trails, pipeline canals and ponds. Before venturing into the swamp it is advisable to become familiar with the area and seek assistance from local fishermen. It is easy to get stuck, as well as lost in the wilderness of the Atchafalaya Basin. When navigating the swamp use caution, as the basin contains submerged logs and stumps.

Spot Access:
Boat Ramp, Parking (car/truck), Parking (boat/trailer), Picnic Area, Power Boats Allowed, Swimming Area, Pier, Disabled access, Shore fishing access, Camping, Restrooms, Beach, Fly Fishing
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Bass, Largemouth (Micropterus salmoides)


Flounder, Gulf (Paralichthys albigutta)


Trout, Speckled (Cynoscion nebulosus)



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